Black and white photo of three men in old-fashioned polar clothes by a sledge.
The support party for the Southern Sledging Party (LR): John Hunter, Herbert Murphy and Charles Laseron, 1912. (Photo: Frank Hurley)

History of traverses in the AAp Traverses have been a feature of ANARE operations since Australia set up its first Antarctic station at Mawson in 1954. Initially most travel was undertaken on dog sledges, often supported by aircraft to increase range and efficiency.

The epic 1962 Vostok traverse covered 3000 km from Wilkes to the abandoned Russian station of Vostok, deep in the continental interior. Using Weasel tracked vehicles, this journey demonstrated the potential of mechanised transport for remote, long-range, field travel. A series of traverses, supplemented with fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, supported remote field programs during the early 1970s in the Prince Charles Mountains. Bases were established at Moore Pyramid and Farley Massif in the Northern PCMs, and at Mount Cresswell in the Southern PCMs. So successful were these that similar programs were extended into Enderby Land, operating from Mt King, until the 1980s.

Australia's participation in the International Antarctic Glaciology Program (IAGP) throughout the seventies necessitated large scale traverse operations to undertake seismic and glaciological exploration out of Casey. Between 1989 and 1995, ANARE undertook another series of traverses to support the Lambert-Amery Regional Glaciology Experiment (LARGE).

During the six years of the program, tractor trains covered thousands of kilometres travelling from Davis to Mawson, around the top of the Lambert Glacier basin, and back to Davis. In the last two years of the program alone, tractor trains with teams of six men completed a return journey of 4500 km, a feat which has been ranked by some as one the greatest journeys ever made in Antarctica.